Digital Sports: the rise

When you think of the most difficult and exciting athletic competitions today, the first thing that might come to mind is the Ironman competition where athletes swim 2.4 miles, ride a bike for 112 miles and run for 26.2 miles. You could also think of ultramarathons, whose participants who run for approximately 135 miles on various landscapes. Or you could think of a competition where two athletes sit across from each other, and try to eliminate the other player while building structures in a video game called Fortnite.

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That is correct. The world of esports has risen and taken the sports world by storm. The rules have changed, no longer does preparing for a sports competition mean putting on your athletic shoes and uniform to go to the field or court. Today it can simply mean going out the door in nothing but a vampire cape, with both legs in a cast and still coming away leaving your opponent in the dirt.

Esports are a simple concept that have been around as long as video games. Typically, a host will pick a multiplayer video game and invite participants to face off against one another for some sort of a prize. The first esports competition took place back in 1972, where students gathered at Stanford University to battle it out in SpaceWar. The prize was a gnarly yearlong subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Today, the competitions are a little bigger and the prizes slightly more enticing. 

And their popularity is staggering. In Asia, esports market has reached over $321 million with North America at $257 million in 2017.

Advertisers for esports competitions include Red Bull, Microsoft, YouTube, Burger King and lots of others. Esports are popular worldwide with teams coming from everywhere including South Korea, America, Denmark, Russia, Brazil and more. In South Korea, there is a channel that is dedicated to showing esports 24 hours a day and in 2017 viewers worldwide watched 2,077,897,606 hours of esports.

The three biggest esport competition games in terms of payouts as of now are Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) and Fortnite. Counter-Strike in particular is extremely popular around the world with a leading 11,898 registered competitors and having already hosted 4,196 tournaments. The American side FaZe Clan are the current CSGO champions after winning the Blast Pro Series Miami in April 2019. The Clan took home a cool $125,000 for the first-place finish. 

Even if you are not, however, schooled in the art of the joystick, you can still make money from betting on esports. Due to their enormous rise over the years, many sportsbooks have started to accept bets on esports. Some betting sites even offer special bonuses just for betting on esports like STS Review who offer an additional five euros for esports bets. 

The games available for betting are limited but the most popular ones such as Dota 2, CSGO and League of Legends are available. The types of bets are very similar to physical sports. You can bet on the winner of the tournament, bets on totals and you can even make bets with various handicaps. There are also more obscure bets such as the duration of the map, which team will reach ten kills first etc. 

Taking the time to understand esports is a great thing to start doing right now, as the community is only expected to get bigger, much bigger. Many bookmakers are also still new to esports, so your extra knowledge will come in handy when assessing their odds. Despite how popular the gaming competitions already are, they still have a long way to go. In North America, the revenue is expected to more than double reaching $607 million by 2020. 

Nowadays, the focus is on the non-traditional sports and esports is one of the biggest. The competitions are exciting, the gameplay well designed and the teams competitive. Video games have continually evolved since their introduction and will continue to shape the future. The current dominance of esports is no mistake and is something we will surely see a lot more of. So next time your looking for a nice competitive sport to play with friends of family, forget about the basketball or the baseball glove, and pick up a controller instead.